SOCHI, Russia -- The venues in Sochi's Olympic Park are visually stunning, with sleek, modern designs that feature smooth, sweeping exterior surfaces and colorful windows.
But the closer you get to many of them, the more the buildings take on the look and feel of a Lego house, one that can be easily disassembled and moved right out of there. Inside, rafters are exposed, the structure that supports the seating is easily seen and the exterior walls and roof feel more like cosmetic covers than permanent, sturdy architecture that will keep the building in its place for years to come.
That's precisely the idea.
The Russians have looked at the struggles of former Olympic host cities that have built massive, expensive arenas for specialized sports that often make them irrelevant after the games leave town. Hoping to avoid that problem, the architects designed several of them to be easily taken apart and moved to other cities, so they don't leave big, expensive, empty footprints on this small seaside resort town.
-- Adler Arena, home to speedskating, Ice Cube Curling Center, Iceberg Skating Palace (figure skating) and Shayba Arena (women's hockey) are all movable buildings. Several others can be converted for other uses.
-- Bolshoy Ice Dome, home to the men's hockey tournament, is scheduled to be repurposed to a sports and entertainment complex.
-- Fisht Olympic Stadium will be used as a training center for the Russian national soccer team and host matches in the 2018 World Cup.
Says Dmitry Chernyshenko, chief executive of the Sochi 2014 organizing committee: "There will be no white elephants."